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Note to any Utah goat packers: I've set up a yahoo group to help people coordinate if they want to invite others to go goat packing within the Utah area. Feel free to join.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/utahpackgoats/

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This trip took place May 3-5 2013 in the amazing San Rafael Swell in Utah. The swell is a huge area that was uplifted by a salt dome millions of years ago like a blister. Layers of ancient sand stone then eroded and created one of the West's greatest landscapes. You'll never be able to see the entire Swell in a life time, so it makes for an excellent destination to explore.

The Swell is about 4 hours from Salt Lake.



The red line traces our path from the mouth of Chute Canyon to the end of Little Wild Horse Canyon.



Here is a description of the geology.



The plan was for my group of 3 to meet up with Bob's group of 7 and caravan down on Friday morning. Unfortunately one of Bob's party could not leave until late. That left my group with half of Friday to spend on our own. We were amazed to find out that Goblin Valley would allow dogs and our goats to run around the park. We took the opportunity to explore this amazing place and dumped any other plans.


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We spotted a cave

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30 feet into the cave.

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The room at the end of the cave.

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Did I mention the goats were with us?

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The goats would love this place if it had grass.

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Me and Sarah on some petrified dunes.

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The pictures do not convey the scale of this weirdness. That rock is as big as a large room.

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The sandstone here seems to be eroding quickly. Its covered by a perpetual fine coating of dusty sand. Goats and humans tend to slip and lose footing easily.

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Amelia Goat-hart is practicing some skills.

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I just could not get the goats to do this pose. But my brother and his dogs did.

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We drove through the reef and around to the back side of Chute Canyon. This is where we planned on camping and meeting up with the rest of the guys at night. We had time to walk the whole distance of Chute Canyon before dark. Unfortunately we did not get many great pictures of this canyon. Its a very mellow canyon and other than one spot you could probably drive a jeep from end to end. Horses had been there a day or two earlier so no problemo.
 

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Bob and his goats and friends showed up around 10:30, well after dark. We chatted and got to know people briefly and let the goats and dogs meet each other.

This was my herd's first over night, and I was just a bit worried about leaving them to run around while I slept (Even though Bob's 5 goats would be loose too). I had built glowing markers that hang from their collars so I could see them easily in the dark. I also ended up sleeping half-way out of my tent so that they would know where I was and understand that people sleep in those tent thingies. It worked great except that all the critters were so excited that there were a lot of things to wake a guy up over that night. My goat Shelby GT liked to sleep close to me and would straddle me if something spooked him. In the end I'm really happy with how my goats did. They've learned a lot and get a gold star for this trip's camping merit badge.

The next day we planned on walking around to the next canyon, Little Wild Horse, and then looping back through Bell Canyon or coming back up the easier Chute Canyon to our camp.

Heading out.

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Bob and 4 of his 5 goats.

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I dont know why but Sasha got a nasty case of the runs on this day. Ew.

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Bob and the goats on some shale. Little Wild Horse Canyon is in the distance.

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Walking down the wash into the canyon. Marching on that fine gravel and sand is annoying.

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Shelby GT isn't that photogenic. I'm lucky when I get a good shot.

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Honestly. The sun was not that hot.

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A minor obstacle in Little Wild Horse Canyon. More to come.

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Traffic jamb caused by....... a tiny puddle that the goats can drink!

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There just was not much water. And it is still spring!

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Yes. The path goes under there.

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Starting to get narrow. Note the awesome sandstone.

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Monochrome

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Lunch time. This is a sudden wide area in the narrows.

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Me and the goslings.

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The zig-zag narrows that this canyon is known for.

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This is a packs-off zone!

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This was the biggest obstacle. It would have been harder coming up the canyon than going down. Especially if the goats were tired and didnt feel like jumping up.

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At the bottom of Little Wild Horse Canyon, some of the animals were in bad shape. Its true this was quite the ambitious trip for the first one of the year. Bob's goats were starting to quit on him. Sasha was getting really gimpy in the hips. Amelia Goat-hart had a slight limp. Chewy the dog was getting creaky. Bob's back was hurting. We decided that we'd go back and get the trucks and pick up the critters, rather than force-marching them back through Chute Canyon or turning back or going back through Bell as planned. I ended up jogging back up Little Wild Horse and retracing the route. It was a blast. I only wish I'd done Bell instead so that I could see new stuff. But that would have cost time and people were waiting. We picked up the ones watching over the animals and got back to camp just after dark. Bob felt like he and his goats wouldn't be up for more canyons Sunday so he decided to do the drive home Saturday night instead. A couple others had to get home that evening too. The rest of us set up our tents and slept very well.

The next morning Sasha was ruined. She did not want to move an inch. Same with Chewy. I was pleased that Shelby, my future main packer, was not so sore that it showed. However, I think Sasha is going to be going on day-hikes only from now on. I also notice Amelia tends to overheat much more quickly than the others. It must be the Saanen in her (she's 50/50 Alpine/Saanen).


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We decided to spend a few hours Sunday morning exploring another canyon. It turned out that we went to Wild Horse Canyon (not the little wild horse canyon). We parked in the shade and left the dogs. This canyon was really awesome and I'd love to explore it again. We only went 45 minutes down the canyon.

There were some awesome boulders with doughnut holes.

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If you can crawl through it, it counts as an arch. Thats the rule.

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I love the photo ops that Utah's scenery provides. Here are the goslings. I expect to add another in a couple months.

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I'll be going back to the San Rafael Swell. It makes a great early and late season destination while the Uintas and Wasatch mountain ranges are snow packed. I'd like to do it 2 or 3 more times this year! I learned a lot about goat packing this trip and nothing went terribly wrong. Who can complain? It was a fantastic trip.
 

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It was a great hike, just a little bit too much for our first outing of the year. The estimated distance is 6-8 miles.

The crowd we were with walks a bit faster than I normally do. This reminded me that you should really time your stops before a goat quits. You don't want to teach them that they can stop a hike by laying down. When I am by myself we have a slower pace, and more regular stops to catch a breath. Herb sets a pretty good pace and I understand he nearly ran back to camp. Perhaps his dog wasn't the only one who had the runs? ;-)

Oh, yeah. It is a good idea to have a spare goat or two. You can shuffle the load around a bit if you need to.

Those are great pictures and narrative!! Thanks.
 

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Amazing pictures and it looks like it is fun...great write up! Neat to see pictures of who is who on here. I have wheeled (4x4 Rock Crawling) all over the Moab area & two of my kids have been to some of Goblin Valley but I have never been there myself... but it is on my list of places to visit in the next couple of years. Maybe next time...

Just for fun, here is a another link with some more amazing pictures...

http://backcountrypost.com/forum/threads/goblin-valley-to-moab.2301/

Here is one of my favorite arches in all of Utah...its even on my license plate.

 
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